tv [untitled] December 4, 2011 8:00pm-8:30pm PST
president o'brien: all members are present. item two, discussion of possible action to make recommendations to the board of supervisors on board of supervisors file number 11104, administrative code, health code, regulating commercial dog walkers on park property. this is an ordinance, by adding article 39 through 39-13 to license and regulate commercial dog walkers operating on park property. today we have a presentation by supervisor scott wiener. in your packet we have behind the ordinance, we have correspondence that you've received from the pb that has previously been mailed to you. >> good evening, commissioners, and thank you for your work on behalf of the city. i know commission work is sometimes the most tough work
there is, an i think i speak for all of my colleagues in thanking you for doing that work and helping small business in san francisco. thank you as well for taking the time to consider dog walker legislation. this is important legislation that's taken a lot of time to put together, and i know we're going to have a continuing dialogue about it. so i just want to go over a few points with you. i think there's a pretty broad desire both within the dog walker community and outside of the dog walker community to have some basic standards in place. dog walkers provide an absolutely critical commercial service for the approximately -- for many of the approximately 1/3 of households in san francisco who have dogs. this is a service without which an awful lot of people could not have dogs. and so it's important that we foster this industry and that we also recognize that the vast
majority of dog walkers do a really good job and are trained professionals. unfortunately, there are some dog walkers, a minority, who maybe don't always do the best job and maybe could use a little bit additional training. for quite sometime, for years, well before i was on the board of supervisors, there's been a discussion about putting in place a permitting system to have some basic standards around commercial dog walkers who use city property, specifically park property, and in this legislation, also poor mpuc property. in addition to protecting consumers to make sure that they can know that the dog walkers they're hiring have met these basic standards, this will also help protect our parks, which are important assets that we all need to use an that we want dog walkers to use. but we want to make sure we're
all able to use it responsibly and together. so approximately six months ago i began a series of conversations with a number of stakeholders, including animal care and control, rec and park, neighborhood parks council, the spca, several professional dog walker associations as well as s.f. dog and crissy field dog. i've also had innumerable individual conversations with dog walkers, with others, who have expressed their feedback on the subject. there's been extensive outreach and work done on this legislation. now, with that said, we're continuing to do outreach. and not a day goes by when i don't get some sort of feedback from a dog walker or from someone he will about the legislation. and i want to assure everyone who contacts me or my office that your feedback is taken
into account. and i received some excellent ideas from members of the public about this legislation, and i know it will be a process and we're going to come up with the best work product possible. the goals of the legislation, of course, is limited to people who are walking for pay four or more dogs in a park p.u.c. property or port property. we want to have basic qualifications, which means that going through some sort of training program or alternatively an apprentice schip program with an experienced dog walker. anyone who has been a dog walker with a license for three or more years will be grandfathered in. they don't have to go through the process because they're already experienced. basic safety standards in terms of transporting dogs, in terms of caring for the dogs while you're walking them in a park or other city property, an
insurance program, which many dogs already have, which protect the dog walker as well as dog owners and members of the public. a permitting system to make clear who the dog walkers are who have met these qualifications. enlisting dog walkers to help us get dogs licensed, but not holding them accountable by punishing them for failing to do so. in other words, urging them to help us to license dogs, but not in any way punishing them if they walk dogs that aren't licensed, because that would be unfair to put that burden on dog walkers. and then what might be the most controversial part of the legislation, to limit the number of dogs a commercial dog walker can walk at one time to seven dogs. now, as i mentioned, we've had a lot of dialogue about this and we'll continue to do so. i want to make very, very clear
to the commission as well as to those interested in legislation and particularly to the dog walker community that this legislation is a work in progress. and i am very, very interested in getting feedback from people to make this as strong and as tight and as effective as possible. for example, the seven-dog limit, there's been a debate over the years between six dogs and eight dogs. it's like this eternal debate that happens. what should be the maximum number. we went with seven dogs in the introduction version of the legislation. seemed like a good compromise. that is a number that is open to discussion. and i've heard some very good interesting arguments on the subject. we need to make sure that animal care and control has the resources that it needs to administer this program. right now animal care and control is a woefully underfunded agency, particularly given what animals mean to this city.
it doesn't have enough enforcement staff and i've committed to working with the agency, with the mayor's budget office. already been in touch with the city administrator and the budget office about next weir's budget and the need to help animal care and control to be able to administer this program but also its other responsibilities. one of the reasons we put "the apprentice"ship alternative in is so people have maximum experience that they need. the effective date is currently april 1, 2012. i am inclined to extend that date because i want to make sure that animal care an control has all the time it needs to set the program up. that we have all the time we need in this legislative process to make sure we get it right and to make sure the dog walkers are able to adjust to a
new ordinance. in terms of vehicle safety, there's a provision for safe transport of animals. some have concluded that that means that we're going to require all dog walkers to have big advance, so that each dog can be individually crated. that is not true. there will not be that requirement. and we're going to have continuing discussions to see how we can clarify that language in the ordinance so we can make clear what it does do and what it doesn't do, the goal being, of course, the dogs are not injured while they're being transported. and then in addition, the current version requires that dog walker wear the permit on a lanyard when they're in the park. some dog walkers have embraced that and view it as legitimizing them. some don't like that. and i prefer that we simply
require that they carry the permit on them, but not display it at all times. that's a conversation we'll continue to have and we'll either keep it the way it is or make a change to it. finally, i do want to note, the city is in a little bit of a tug-of-war for about a year now with the golden gate national recreation area, which is proposing to dramatically reduce off-leash dog access. i've taken a lead in pushing back, because if they dramatically reduce off-leash access in these federal properties, we're going to see a major influx of dogs and dog walkers into our city parks, which will have more wear and tear on the parks. i have reached out to ggnra and asked them to consider honoring our permits so the dog walkers don't have to go through two separate systems. they've responded to me that until they finish their environmental review process, they're not able to agree to
anything. in the future they are pro tensionly agreeable to honoring our permits. i'm happy to answer any questions that you may have. president o'brien: go ahead, commissioner. >> i have just a few things. we've been receiving a lot of input from the dog-walking community. seems as though the number seven seems to be a significant problem, versus number eight. so, you know, we've just heard so much from people about that, that i think we should consider eight. seems to be one where peep feel they can at least city keep -- have a decent income and move forward with that. that is one thing. and i think the lanyard idea is a great idea or some kind of i.d., only because i am a dog
owner and i'm out a lot. i just think it will protect those who are involved with the program in a really -- doing all of this from having the rogue dog walkers out there, which, you know, i don't know which ones are which, but i can kind of guess. i just think some kind of i.d., button, anything, just so that you don't have to ask. it would make it easier for enforcement and also for those of us who are out and about with our own dogs. i think identifying is a great idea. the last thing is i'd really like to encourage "the apprentice" schip program. i've been reading that there's only at this point one dog-walking training program, which seems like we're kind of handing them a little bit of a monopoly at that point. so, you know, i would really urge you to get in touch with
the professional dog walkers associations and try to get a program up and running that would really dot a-- do theapen trystship. that's where people really understand what's going on with their dogs. >> i appreciate that. in terms of the eight dogs, i do think that i am open to that number. and as i mentioned, the six vs. eight discussion, that's been happening for a long time. but it's definitely within that range of reason in terms of what the debate has been. so i'm not ruling that out at all. and i meant to mention before the issue of dog tech, which is the training program i think you were referring to. there is -- there was a rumor out there that dog tech had participated in drafting the legislation, which, you know, could be viewed as furthering or creating some sort of
monopoly. dog tech did not participate in drafting this legislation. they were not part of any of the meetings. they did not draft it. the dog walkers involved were the dog walker associations who i met with repeatedly. and i agree with you, that there need to be alternatives, which is why we -- i believe and the group believes that having this apprenticeship alternative would be a great way to accomplish that. an hopefully there will be a eater diversity of programs offered by professionals in the future. >> i also think that it would help out in terms of if they are limiting how many, that if there were some way that "the apprentice" program could be a fairly modest fee that would add to the income of the very experienced walkers, who would be involved with the apprentice. i think that would be a really positive thing for the walkers. >> so you're suggesting that we -- because the way i had been envisioning it was that if
someone was equaled to do an apprentice schip program, it means they have to have a certain number of years of experience. the new dog walker, i'd say, would you apprentice me, an maybe you'd be nice and do it free. maybe you would say if you pay me some money. but i have been tending to just leave it to people to negotiate their own arrangements. there could be a different option, and i wouldn't rule that out. >> thank you. >> commissioner adams? commissioner adams: yes. so you're not going to have the mandatory rule, right? >> yes. commissioner adams: that's what i wanted to hear. >> that would be over the top and that's not the intent. commissioner adams: i like the non-skid surfaces and rubber rugs. i do think the crates would create an unnecessary burden, so thank you. >> i agree with you. president o'brien: commissioner o'connor.
commissioner o'connor: on the last page of the report that i'm reading from the commission of animal control and welfare, it's talking about $100 permit payment. could you just describe, would that be a yearly permit fee per company? >> sure. to have a permit, the maximum fee for the initial application, the maximum would be 250, the maximum annual would be 100. there would have to be a calculation, because we cannot charge a fee higher than the cost of administering the program. so we put a higher cap for the first year just because of the up-front cost to the department of getting the program off the ground. but then it would be no more than 100 after that. commissioner o'connor: sounds like a fairly fair amount, compared to what other businesses are paying for their various permits.
>> i had some dog walkers who wanted it to be higher, and i thought that we should keep it pretty modest, because this is an industry that has a lot of people who are just getting by, and i thought it was important to have a lower fee. president o'brien: any further questions? ok, i had a question. i presume that the reasoning for imposing a limit of how many dogs was for safety purposes, or were there other considerations when that discussion was on? >> it had to do with ability to control and to clean up after the dogs as well as wear and tear on city property. those are the two. and safety being a part of the ability to control, recognizing there be dog walkers who have problems controlling two dogs and some dog walkers who control a lot more, and that smaller dogs are different than
bigger dogs. but smaller dogs can be difficult than bigger dogs. in terms of administering a program and enforcing them and consistent enforcement, it would be challenging to have a sliding scale in terms of the number of dogs. president o'brien: right. you kind of led into what i was going to get to, whether they discussed about the size of the dog. and i was also wondering if there maybe was a discussion about the breed of the dog. rottweilers, or the pe czar yo -- i'm not an expert on dogs, but some of these others that we hear about, there might be an idea that some sort of a delineation for dogs that are known for being bred for fighting purposes or something like that. just a thought that i had. >> yeah. i mean, i could envision a system where you differentiate, but, you know, whether it's rec and park or animal care and
control, they have enforcement in this city outside of parking tickets of the we have a lot of challenges. so i hesitate to create an overly complicated system where you'd have to have park patrol officers or animal welfare officers saying, is that dog over 20 pounds or under 20 pounds? is it this breed or that breed? it would just become very difficult. but, again, if someone has a brilliant idea on how that can be implemented effectively, i'm all ears. president o'brien: or at least in the beginning, maybe leave it out. ok. >> one thing i just wanted to also mention to the members of the public, people who are listening in or here, that my office continues to be available to receive any feedback that anyone has, ideas, questions rs concerns. the more specific people can be, the better, in terms of i don't like this. why don't you try it this way
instead. you can call my office or email and also, adam taylor is here. so tonight if you're not already -- if we haven't been in touch with you already and you want to be on our update list, make sure he has your email address, so we can stay in touch with you. president o'brien: ok, thank you, commissioner riley. commissioner riley: i think, supervisor, you answered most of my questions already. when i first read it, i had some questions about why seven dogs, and not eight. and then i'm also concerned about having to separately crate the dogs, and now you explain that that is no longer a requirement, which is good. and i also understood that the dog tag was the only certification program in town. but with the apprentice, i think that's going to resolve that. what about fees? is this $100 or $250?
>> $250 is the first time when you get a brand-new permit and thereafter the renewal is $100. commissioner riley: i think that's fair. thank you. president o'brien: thank you. ok. no more questions from commissioners. i'm going to open it up for public comment, but i've got a request for me to agree to that a member of one of the professional dog-walking associations would get an opportunity to present, and i'd like to give them an extended time. >> great. thank you very much, commissioners. president o'brien: thank you. members of the public, if you'd like to speak, you can assist the commission by filling out a speaker card on the side table and you can leave the speaker cards right up here up front and then we can call people in order and make sure we have time for everybody. >> good evening, commissioners, my name is nancy stafford, co-director of the san francisco professional dog walkers association, known as pro dog. i appreciate you hearing this
legislation, this proposed legislation. the san francisco professional dog walkers association strongly supports a permit for professional dog walkers. we feel the per fit will will help provide accountability and lenl it mize our members as professionals -- legitimize our members as professionals to the public. we have been advocating for a permit for over eight years, before the animal control and welfare commission and finally, with supervisor wiener. our organization, which was founded in 1998, has over 100 active members, with more joining each year. we would probably have more members, but we do have -- i get inquiries, but some people don't satisfy our requirements for membership, which is it's necessary to have a business license, and you need to be a smaller business of sick or less, because we don't have, in general, larger businesses.
because most of our members are single operators or else partnerships of one or two people. pro dog is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to the animals entrusted to us. we advocate for responsible park use a.m. and have been stakeholders in discussions about dog policy in the golden gate national recreation area, as well as city parks. we estimate that there are a total of 300 to 500 professional dog walkers in the city, as well with about 170,000 dogs, according to the spca. the number -- we have a few comments, although scott did address some of these issues. the number of dogs allowed. we have always advocated for eight. the requirement that dog walkers insure clients are licensed. he kind of went over that, but we do have some concerns. the city should not force us to
refuse clients because their dogs are not licensed when groomers, veterinarians, kennels, doggy daycare and kennels do not have similar burdens. there can be a wide variety of reasons why people have not licensed their dogs. in many jurisdictions the rabies tag is the license, or they just moved here, they're visiting for a few months, they're confused about the length of the license, which runs concurrent with your rabies tag, anywhere from one to three years. they moved and they didn't get the renewal notice, etc., etc. professional dog walkers aren't the police and we don't really want to be acting as the police. we support dogs being licensed and will gladly hand out information politics for licenses. many of us do this already. who should be required to have a permit? pro dog feels that every individual who walks dogs for compensation without an owner present -- now this would exempt trainers, because most trainers work with the owner --
should be required to have a pro dog walker permit. regardless of whether the dogs are on or off leash or whether the dogs are being walked in a park or on city streets. only requiring professional dog walkers to have a permit that walk more than four dogs at the same time will put some dog walkers, those with the largers groups, at an unfair economic disadvantage, compared to the other walkers, those who walk smaller groups. dog walkers who walk larger groups will have the financial burden of the permit, the insurance, the vehicle inspection and educational requirements that other dog walkers walking less will not. even though safety issues cited to justify those requirements apply, whether you're walking one dog or more. the permit fee. we suggest a permit fee of $150 to start out with, to encourage buy-in from the dog-walking community. safely restraining animals. this requirement is rather vague. we think it need to be spelled out. but we would suggest that it
means that the vehicle inspections would require a non--skid surface of rubber or rugs in the bed of the truck, that windows will have a strong screening, like, for example, hardware cloth to prevent escapes. that a vehicle with a soft top might not be acceptable, and that requirement for cars and advance may be different than from trucks. any requirements that dogs be in crates and vehicles is not feasible due to the variety of sizes of dogs in vehicles. educational requirement. this is incorrectly stated, but then he fixed that. it should be "or." displaying a permit. we have concerns about displaying the permit, because it can get tangled up, if it's not, and we often have so many different layers of clothing we're always taking on and off. it would be much better if we had the permit on us. nobody else is required to do that, and i don't want to see it as a scarlet letter. to identify us. we also see the potential for
insurance costs, which vary from $174 a year to $400, depending upon what insurance you use. any questions? president o'brien: i'll take all the questions after we've had all public comment. gives everybody that chance. ok, next. >> we have on the speaker cards, crystal mason, sky chrome, sally stevens, walter paulson. members of the public, public comment will be limited to three minutes. if you could please >> hi, my name is crystle mason. i have been a dog walker for about five years. i guess one of the main points i would like to make is that i think there definitely needs to be more time taken in getting this legislation together, because while i agree with the
objective to sort of weed out the bad dog walkers, as this legislation stands, and because of the vagueness and because of some of the things that are not some vague, i think it stands a chance of weeding out a lot of good dog walkers and will no longer be able to afford to do this job. i think the legislation needs to be clear. i will also say that i think the eight dog limit is more feasible than seven or six, because i know for myself, if i could only do seven dogs, it would cost me maybe $700 a month, and i think that there needs to be an impact study on the cost of this legislation to dog walkers but also to owners, because, you know, we are going to have to pass some of these costs on to owners, so i think there needs to be an impact study done before this the legislation goes into effect. i think there needs to be time taken for that. i think also for